April 22, 2019

As a Long-Time Champion of Students, Senator Warren Leads the Fight to End the Student Debt Crisis and Truly Invest in Opportunities for Young People

“Long before I ever came within a hundred miles of politics, I had been a teacher. I just wanted every kid to get a chance to build something.”

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has spent over six years in the U.S. Senate fighting to invest far more in opportunities for America’s young people.  Her work includes championing sweeping legislation to reduce interest rates and debt for student borrowers, including ways to address disproportionate student debt among borrowers of color; using her oversight role in the Senate to crack down on for-profit colleges and greedy student loan companies; and advocating for student veterans, military borrowers, and young people who choose careers in public service.
For Senator Warren, the fight for greater opportunity for all is personal. She grew up in a family that didn’t have much. A $50- a- semester commuter college changed her life. While she grew up in an America that created opportunities for kids like her, today those kinds of options have simply disappeared. For instance, more than 70 percent of students graduating from state schools have to borrow money, and data show that many Black and Latinx students still owe more than 100 percent of their student loan balance years after leaving college, even if they complete a degree. Student loan debt holds America’s young people back, making it harder for them to save for a down payment on a home, start a small business, or start building families of their own.
Senator Warren has successfully fought for students cheated by for-profit colleges to get their loans forgiven -- tax-free:

  • In 2014, Senator Warren forced the Department of Education to acknowledge that students defrauded by their colleges had a right to debt forgiveness and launched a campaign to urge the Department to provide that relief. Through public letters, staff investigations, public awareness campaigns and coordination with state officials – Warren urged more and faster relief for cheated students.

  • To date, the Education Department has announced student loan cancellations for more than 28,000 former students across the country cheated by Corinthian Colleges and some 4,500 Massachusetts students cheated by the American Career Institute. 
Senator Warren passed bipartisan legislation creating stronger protections from predatory practices for all students:

She has fought to hold student loan companies and banks that cheat students accountable:

  • Beginning with a Senate hearing in 2015,  Senator Warren raised serious concerns about the troubled oversight of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and the federal Department of Education – the gatekeepers responsible for approving colleges to accept federal student loans. The following year, Senator Warren released a report detailing the appalling record of failure at ACICS and followed with a letter demanding the Department hold ACICS accountable.
    •  Thanks in part to Senator Warren’s efforts, staff at the Department and the accreditation advisory committee recommended terminating ACICS.

    • In November 2018, Education Secretary DeVos reversed this decision. In response, Senator Warren led her colleagues in the House and Senate in calling on Secretary DeVos to rescind ACICS’s reinstatement and released new evidence confirming reports that DeVos had ignored major red flags and cited false information as support for ACICS’s reinstatement.

  • Senator Warren also opened an investigation into the sudden collapse of Education Corporation of America, a for-profit college that received a stamp of approval from ACICS. The information Senator Warren’s investigation uncovered led the Education Department’s Office of the Inspector General, in December 2018, to open an investigation into Secretary DeVos’s decision to reinstate ACICS.

  • When President Trump abruptly dismissed the Education Department’s acting inspector general, Senator Warren called him out. The Trump administration back-tracked hours later.

  • Since 2015, Senator Warren has also led the fight to hold Navient, a federal student loan servicer, accountable for its long and well-documented record of fraudulent, misleading, and predatory behavior. In November 2018, Sen. Warren released a previously-undisclosed Education Department audit report that revealed Navient’s disturbing record of cheating student borrowers and driving them into debt.

  • Senator Warren publicly addressed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau findings that showed Wells Fargo charged excessively high fees for financial products marketed to students through agreements with their colleges. Wells Fargo announced in April 2019 that they had dropped a handful of fees for college-backed debit cards used by students on campuses.
Senator Warren successfully fought for additional federal funding for student loan forgiveness for police officers, teachers, firefighters, and others in public service:

  • In response to constituent concerns about misinformation and confusion around the complex requirements for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), Senator Warren and her colleagues successfully advocated to establish a temporary expansion for PSLF (TEPSLF), providing $700 million for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 to allow public service borrowers who enrolled in the wrong repayment plan to be eligible for forgiveness. In addition to this temporary expansion, Congress appropriated $4.6 million total in FY18 and FY19 for the Department of Education to conduct outreach to improve borrowers' knowledge of the PSLF and TEPSLF programs.

  • And after a GAO report revealed a 99.6% denial rate for the loan forgiveness program, Senator Warren began working to hold the Education Department accountable for making corrections.
All three of Senator Warren’s brothers served in the military.  She deeply appreciates the sacrifices and contributions servicemembers and their families make for our country. As a senator, she has fought hard for student veterans and military borrowers:

  • She secured new protections for active-duty servicemembers illegally overcharged on federal student loans and helped obtain refunds for over 80,000 military borrowers after pressuring the Department of Education to act. Senator Warren’s report and the Education Department's Office of Inspector General investigation she prompted eventually led the Secretary of Education to agree to conduct new reviews and refund money to over 80,000 military borrowers who were overcharged on their federal student loans between 2008 and 2014.

  • She helped secure G.I. Bill educational benefits for Purple Heart recipients who were previously deemed ineligible. Senator Warren joined Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and other senators to introduce bipartisan legislation to expand eligibility to all Purple Heart recipients. This change was signed into law as part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act in August 2017.

  • She fought for an agreement, announced April 2019, between the Departments of Defense and Education to automate for servicemembers a benefit that exempts them from paying any interest on their student loans while serving in war zones. She continues to advocate for those who paid such interest in the past to receive refunds.
Senator Warren also passed legislation to help high school students access career and technical education programs by reducing out-of-pocket costs:

  • She successfully passed the Free Career and Technical Education for High School Student Act to require states to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs associated with career and technical education programs for high school students with disabilities, students from low-income families, and students with other barriers to educational achievement such as those learning English.
Senator Warren continues this fight in the Senate to end the student loan crisis and to truly invest in opportunities for all of America’s young people.